May 9, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcherYovani Gallardo
(49) pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
2014 Contract: $11.25 million
2015: $13 million team option
Yovani Gallardo career up to this point has been unpredictable. Now a seasoned Brewer, Gallardo usually starts off Spring Training as the second fiddle to a supposed up-and-comer or free agent acquisition, eventually being handed the ball on opening day. Yovani has never proclaimed he is the ace of the Brewer staff, it just keeps happening by default.
The 2014 season started again with Yovani on the mound opening day. This season was different in that his contract had only a club option left, an option for 13 million dollars. Trade speculation would be a given if he stayed healthy, especially if the Brewers stayed around .500 as expected.
Long (and painful) story short, the Brewers were better than average and Gallardo was the “ace by default” for most of the season. Part of the season he played the role very well, and for the other part he played as well as the rest of the team. If the Brewers were the Jekyll and Hyde of 2014 MLB, Yovani was their “Hyde by default.”
This season Gallardo finished 8-11 with an ERA of 3.51 and WAR of 2.4. This is a somewhat misleading due to the end of season Brewer collapse that Gallardo was a very big part of, dropping his final 7 decisions of the season. It’s hard to compete for the playoffs when your “ace by default” can’t give you any wins.
The first half for Yovani (like the rest of the team) was all wins and lollipops with the second half a disaster, leaving Gallardo is a tough one to figure out. This was Gallardo’s eighth season with the Brewers and third consecutive season of regression in the areas of strikeouts, velocity and WAR. Supporters will point to his overall work as the Brewers number one option and dominating outings (there were many first half of 2014), but unless Gallardo can show consistency over the course of a season teams will not be lining up with ace pitching money.
We already know he will be a Brewer next year (team exercised 13 million dollar team option) so the question is now what role can we expect him to play? Best case the Brewers pick up where they left after 135 games into last season and Gallardo is part of a big three that includes Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse. The flipside is Gallardo drops off and becomes the fourth or fifth guy in the rotation behind Garza, Lohse, Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson. The first option gives Milwaukee flexibility, using Gallardo as a trade chip; the latter won’t return much in the form of a trade and will cost 13 million dollars.
The smart money says the Brewers will look to trade Gallardo, but I wouldn’t bet against seeing Yovani unexpectedly handed the ball on opening day, it’s almost tradition.